Legislature(2021 - 2022)SENATE FINANCE 532

02/28/2022 09:00 AM Senate FINANCE

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09:01:03 AM Start
09:02:49 AM Consideration of Governor's Appointees: Kevin Fimon, Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (amhta) Board of Trustees
09:10:20 AM SB81
10:33:42 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Consideration of Governor’s Appointees: Kevin TELECONFERENCED
Fimon, Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority
Board of Trustees
Heard & Held
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
-- <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                 SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                     February 28, 2022                                                                                          
                         9:01 a.m.                                                                                              
9:01:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Bishop called the  Senate Finance Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 9:01 a.m.                                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Click Bishop, Co-Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Bert Stedman, Co-Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Lyman Hoffman                                                                                                           
Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                             
Senator Bill Wielechowski                                                                                                       
Senator David Wilson                                                                                                            
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Senator Natasha von Imhof                                                                                                       
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
Julee  Douglas,  Staff,  Senator Donnie  Olson;  Brix  Hanh,                                                                    
Staff, Senator  Donnie Olson;  Joel Hard,  Director, Village                                                                    
Public Safety  Officers, Department of Public  Safety; Kelly                                                                    
Howell,  Legislative  Liaison,   Special  Assistant  to  the                                                                    
Commissioner,  Department of  Public  Safety; Jason  Wilson,                                                                    
VPSO Coordinator, Tlingit and Haida Central Council.                                                                            
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Kevin   Fimon,  Appointee,   Alaska   Mental  Health   Trust                                                                    
Authority  Board  of  Trustees, Anchorage;  Michael  Nemeth,                                                                    
VPSO   Program   Coordinator,   Aleutian   Pribilof   Island                                                                    
Association,  Eagle   River;  Amber  Vaska,   Tanana  Chiefs                                                                    
Conference,  Alaska  Regional Coalition,  Fairbanks;  Rhonda                                                                    
Pitka, Chief, Village of Beaver, Beaver.                                                                                        
SB 81     VILLAGE PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICER GRANTS                                                                                  
          SB 81 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
CONSIDERATION OF GOVERNOR'S  APPOINTEES: KEVIN FIMON, Alaska                                                                    
MENTAL HEALTH TRUST AUTHORITY (AMHTA) BOARD OF TRUSTEES                                                                         
^CONSIDERATION  OF   GOVERNOR'S  APPOINTEES:   KEVIN  FIMON,                                                                  
ALASKA  MENTAL  HEALTH  TRUST  AUTHORITY  (AMHTA)  BOARD  OF                                                                  
9:02:49 AM                                                                                                                    
KEVIN   FIMON,  APPOINTEE,   ALASKA   MENTAL  HEALTH   TRUST                                                                    
AUTHORITY    BOARD     OF    TRUSTEES,     ANCHORAGE    (via                                                                    
teleconference),  explained  his personal  and  professional                                                                    
background. He remarked that his wife is a doctor.                                                                              
9:04:46 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Stedman  recalled that  there had been  some issues                                                                    
in  the  management  of  the   Alaska  Mental  Health  Trust                                                                    
Authority (AMHTA)  Board of Trustees. He  asked about issues                                                                    
with real  estate holdings  and the  legal structure  of the                                                                    
9:05:28 AM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Fimon  replied that he  had recently learned  about some                                                                    
of the  proposals and policies  that had been  completed. He                                                                    
offered to  provide more information later.  He relayed that                                                                    
he  was aware  of the  issue  with the  non-cash assets  and                                                                    
understood   that  the   trust  was   seeking  third   party                                                                    
consultations on how to liquidate and maximize the assets.                                                                      
9:06:27 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Stedman appreciated  that the  appointee had  made                                                                    
themselves  aware of  the issues  related to  the trust.  He                                                                    
thought  that  the strengths  held  by  the appointee  would                                                                    
benefit the board.                                                                                                              
9:07:09 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Stedman  FORWARDED the  appointment of  Kevin Fimon                                                                    
for  consideration in  accordance  with  Alaska Statute.  He                                                                    
relayed that  this did not  reflect an intent by  any member                                                                    
of the Senate  Finance Committee to vote for  or against the                                                                    
confirmation of the individuals during any further                                                                              
sessions. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                          
9:07:44 AM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
9:09:37 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATE BILL NO. 81                                                                                                            
     "An Act requiring  background investigations of village                                                                    
     public safety  officer applicants by the  Department of                                                                    
     Public Safety;  relating to  the village  public safety                                                                    
     officer program; and providing for an effective date."                                                                     
9:10:20 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DONNIE OLSON, SPONSOR, introduced his staff.                                                                            
9:10:30 AM                                                                                                                    
JULEE DOUGLAS, STAFF, SENATOR DONNIE OLSON, relayed that                                                                        
she was a First Alaskan Fellow.                                                                                                 
9:10:39 AM                                                                                                                    
BRIX HANH, STAFF, SENATOR DONNIE OLSON, introduced herself.                                                                     
9:10:52 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Olson introduced the legislation.                                                                                       
9:15:00 AM                                                                                                                    
Ms. Douglas discussed the Sectional Analysis (copy on                                                                           
     Please note  that this is  a sectional summary  and not                                                                    
     an authoritative  interpretation of the bill.  The bill                                                                    
     itself is the best statement of its contents.                                                                              
     This  bill  implements eight  of  the  nine short  term                                                                    
     recommendations   from  the   Joint  Legislative   VPSO                                                                    
     Working Group's  report adopted  January 24,  2020. The                                                                    
     nine recommendations are:                                                                                                  
     Recommendation 1.  Update the VPSO statutes  to provide                                                                    
     a clear  law enforcement  and public safety  vision and                                                                    
     mission  for the  program  and  provide VPSO  personnel                                                                    
     clear law enforcement duties and powers.                                                                                   
     Recommendation  2.  Create more  financial  flexibility                                                                    
     for the VPSO grantee  organizations in the updated VPSO                                                                    
     Recommendation 3.  Restore VPSO funding levels  to FY18                                                                    
     Recommendation 4. Fund unfunded mandates.                                                                                  
     Recommendation 5.  Related to  Recommendation 4,  in an                                                                    
     updated  VPSO statute,  mandate that  grant awards  pay                                                                    
     grantee organization their full indirect costs.                                                                            
     Recommendation  6. Move  financial grant  management to                                                                    
     the  Department of  Commerce,  Community, and  Economic                                                                    
     Recommendation   7.   Maintain  operational   advisory,                                                                    
     training, and  experience requirement oversight  at the                                                                    
     Department of Public Safety.                                                                                               
     Recommendation  8. In  statute create  a Tribal/Grantee                                                                    
     organization    consultation    process   before    the                                                                    
     Department   can   change   training   and   experience                                                                    
     Recommendation  9.  Revised versions  (consistent  with                                                                    
     the  recommendations of  this report)  of current  VPSO                                                                    
     regulations need  to be placed  in statute in  order to                                                                    
     operationalize the  VPSO program and to  facilitate the                                                                    
     grant management moving to the Department of Commerce.                                                                     
     Section 1 (pages 1-3)                                                                                                      
     Amends   AS   12.62.400  regarding   criminal   history                                                                    
     background checks and adds VPSO  program personnel as a                                                                    
     program the  Department of Public Safety  is authorized                                                                    
     to secure  background checks via the  Federal Bureau of                                                                    
     Investigation.  The substantive  change occurs  on page                                                                    
     3, line 21.                                                                                                                
     Section 2 (page 3)                                                                                                         
     Related to Section  1, Amends AS 18.65.080,  one of the                                                                    
     Department  of Public  Safety's enabling  statutes. The                                                                    
     amendment  requires  that  the  Department  secure  the                                                                    
     background checks for VPSO program personnel.                                                                              
     Sections 1  and 2 implement Recommendation  2 regarding                                                                    
     creating  more financial  flexibility for  the program.                                                                    
     At one point the Department  of Public Safety (DPS) was                                                                    
     conducting background checks for  the VPSO program then                                                                    
     unilaterally  stopped   with  no  notice   the  grantee                                                                    
     organizations. Sections 1 and  2 together make it clear                                                                    
     that background checks are a  DPS function for the VPSO                                                                    
     Section 3 (pages 4-7)                                                                                                      
     In  current  statute  the VPSO  program  has  only  one                                                                    
     statute,  AS 18.65.670.  Section 3  proposes to  repeal                                                                    
     and   reenact  the   statute  and   add  multiple   new                                                                    
          Subsection (a)  has been  rewritten to  conform to                                                                    
          the  current   Legislative  Drafting   Manual  and                                                                    
          because a new statute  is proposed in Bill Section                                                                    
          4,  AS 18.65.686,  that  updates  VPSO duties  and                                                                    
          Subsection  (b)  is  identical  to  existing  (b),                                                                    
          except the  last sentence of  existing (b)  is not                                                                    
          included as it was deemed unnecessary.                                                                                
          Subsection  (c)  is  new   and  is  the  statutory                                                                    
          codification  of  current  DPS regulation  13  AAC                                                                    
         96.020. This implements Recommendation 9.                                                                              
          Subsection  (d)  is  new   and  is  the  statutory                                                                    
          codification  of  current  DPS regulation  13  AAC                                                                    
          96.030  with changes  that remove  the prohibition                                                                    
          of  existing 13  AAC 96.030(2)  that prevents  the                                                                    
          payment  of  bonuses  from  other  non-VPSO  grant                                                                    
          revenue sources.  Also removed is  the requirement                                                                    
          that grantees  indemnify the state.  These changes                                                                    
          implement Recommendations, 2, 4, and 9.                                                                               
          Subsection  (e)   is  new   and  is   the  partial                                                                    
          statutory codification of  current DPS regulations                                                                    
          13   AAC   96.040,  specifically,   (a)(2).   This                                                                    
          subsection sets  the overall policy that  one VPSO                                                                    
          is generally  assigned to  one village  unless the                                                                    
          grantee  organization   requests  additional  VPSO                                                                    
          personnel per village. The  changes reflect a more                                                                    
          neutral  and less  harsh  tone  than the  language                                                                    
          from the regulation.                                                                                                  
          Subsection (f) is new and  allows for traveling or                                                                    
          "roving"  VPSO  personnel  who  are  permitted  to                                                                    
          itinerate  between  villages  within  a  grantee's                                                                    
          region  as   public  safety  needs   arise.  These                                                                    
          changes implement Recommendations 1, 2, and 9.                                                                        
          Subsection  (g)   is  new   and  is   the  partial                                                                    
          statutory codification of  current DPS regulations                                                                    
          13  AAC  96.040.  New  (g)  contains  grant  award                                                                    
          record  keeping   requirements  and   other  grant                                                                    
          management  requirements. These  changes implement                                                                    
          Recommendations 1, 2, and 9.                                                                                          
          Subsection  (h) contains  new regulation  adopting                                                                    
          authority  for the  DPS  commissioner, subject  to                                                                    
          the new  consultation requirements  of new  (l) of                                                                    
          this   bill  section.   These  changes   implement                                                                    
          Recommendations 1, 2, and 8.                                                                                          
          Subsection   (i)   allows  for   funding   grantee                                                                    
          organizations'  indirect rates  up to  a statewide                                                                    
          average  of 35%.  This language  has been  used as                                                                    
          intent  language   in  multiple   prior  operating                                                                    
          budget  bills. These  changes partially  implement                                                                    
          Recommendations 2, 4-5.                                                                                               
          Subsection  (j)  is   new  and  provides  explicit                                                                    
          instruction  to  the  commissioner on  grant  fund                                                                    
          disbursement. Specifically,  that grant  funds can                                                                    
          be  used for  items reasonably  related to  public                                                                    
          safety and  VPSO duties as codified  in this bill.                                                                    
          Further, grant  fund disbursement is to  be timely                                                                    
          and  funding request  are not  to be  unreasonably                                                                    
          withheld.   These   changes  partially   implement                                                                    
          Recommendation 2.                                                                                                     
          Subsections  (k) and  (l) are  related to  new (i)                                                                    
          and  provides for  a  consultation and  negotiated                                                                    
          rule-making  process for  when  any  of the  state                                                                    
          agencies involved  with the VPSO  program exercise                                                                    
          their   regulation   adopting   authority.   These                                                                    
          changes implement Recommendation 8.                                                                                   
     Section 4 (pages 8-14)                                                                                                     
     Creates new statutes:                                                                                                      
          AS  18.65.672  is  the statutory  codification  of                                                                    
          current DPS regulation 13  AAC 96.080 dealing with                                                                    
          VPSO  qualification  requirements.  These  changes                                                                    
          implement Recommendation 9.                                                                                           
          AS  18.65.674  is  the statutory  codification  of                                                                    
          current DPS regulation 13  AAC 96.090 dealing with                                                                    
          VPSO  background checks.  These changes  implement                                                                    
          Recommendation 9.                                                                                                     
          AS  18.65.676  is  the statutory  codification  of                                                                    
          current DPS regulation 13  AAC 96.100 dealing with                                                                    
          VPSO   training    requirements.   These   changes                                                                    
          implement Recommendations 1 and 9.                                                                                    
          AS  18.65.678  is  the statutory  codification  of                                                                    
          current  DPS regulations  13 AAC  96.040(b)(8) and                                                                    
          13 AAC  96.100 dealing with VPSO  firearm training                                                                    
          requirements.     These      changes     implement                                                                    
          Recommendations 9.                                                                                                    
          AS  18 65.682  is  the  statutory codification  of                                                                    
          current DPS regulation 13  AAC 96.110 dealing with                                                                    
          VPSO   certification.   These  changes   implement                                                                    
          Recommendations 9.                                                                                                    
          AS  18.65.684  is  the statutory  codification  of                                                                    
          current DPS regulation 13  AAC 96.120 dealing with                                                                    
          the  denial,  revocation,  or   lapse  of  a  VPSO                                                                    
          certificate.      These     changes      implement                                                                    
          Recommendations 9.                                                                                                    
          AS  18.65.686 contains  the  duties and  functions                                                                    
          that VPSO  personnel are currently  performing but                                                                    
          are  not codified  in the  existing statute.  This                                                                    
          implements Recommendation 1.                                                                                          
          AS  18.65.688 is  a definitional  section to  deal                                                                    
          with  various   terms  used  throughout   the  new                                                                    
          statutory sections.                                                                                                   
     Section 5 (page 14)                                                                                                        
     Creates in  the uncodified  law a  standard grandfather                                                                    
     provision  for existing  VPSO  personnel  who may  have                                                                    
     been  certified under  different training  requirements                                                                    
     than what is provided for in this bill.                                                                                    
     Section 6 (page 14)                                                                                                        
     Creates in  the uncodified  law a requirement  that DPS                                                                    
     continue  its  current  level  of  interaction  between                                                                    
     itself  and the  VPSO  personnel.  That requirement  is                                                                    
     codified in  current VPSO statute AS  18.65.670(c) with                                                                    
     the  language  relating  to  DPS  regulation  authority                                                                    
     extending  to "the  interaction between  the Department                                                                    
     of Public  Safety and village public  safety officers."                                                                    
     This  requirement is  maintained by  bill section  3(i)                                                                    
     which uses  the exact wording regarding  DPS regulation                                                                    
     Section 7 (page 14)                                                                                                        
     Is an  effective date provision  and provides  that the                                                                    
     subsections  (b)    (g) of  repealed  and reenacted  AS                                                                    
     18.65.670  become  effective  on July  1,  2020.  These                                                                    
     subsections    are     proposed    codifications    and                                                                    
     modifications of  current department  regulations. This                                                                    
     will allow the  department time to take  action to make                                                                    
     the  department  regulations  consistent with  the  new                                                                    
     provisions of statute enacted by this bill.                                                                                
     Section 8 (page 14).                                                                                                       
     Provides that  all other sections  of the bill  have an                                                                    
     immediate effective date.                                                                                                  
9:26:09 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Hoffman appreciated  this task  force. He  wondered                                                                    
whether  the  financial  flexibility created  in  Section  2                                                                    
would  allow  for  grantees  to  do  the  work  under  self-                                                                    
9:27:22 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Olson  replied that the  main objective of  the bill                                                                    
was for  recruitment and retention of  Village Public Safety                                                                    
Officers (VPSO). He said that  the numbers were currently at                                                                    
an all-time  low. He  deferred to  the Department  of Public                                                                    
Safety (DPS).                                                                                                                   
9:28:35 AM                                                                                                                    
JOEL  HARD,   DIRECTOR,  VILLAGE  PUBLIC   SAFETY  OFFICERS,                                                                    
DEPARTMENT OF  PUBLIC SAFETY,  stated that  the bill  went a                                                                    
long  way towards  implementing the  recommendations of  the                                                                    
VPSO taskforce convened by the  legislature in 2000. He said                                                                    
he would continue to work with  the bill sponsor to create a                                                                    
more  flexible  program  that  focused  on  recruitment  and                                                                    
retention of VPSO officers. He  lamented the past failure of                                                                    
recognizing work/life  balance for  officers and  the direct                                                                    
relationship  between   facilities  and   infrastructure  on                                                                    
9:30:35 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Hoffman  expressed concern that grantees  could have                                                                    
their  hands tied  and  wanted  assurances that  flexibility                                                                    
would be available  to grantees to expend  funds under self-                                                                    
determination. He  thought that  the VPSO program  saved the                                                                    
state  money but  thought that  the contracts  could be  too                                                                    
restrictive   because  of   too  strict   interpretation  of                                                                    
contracts by DPS.                                                                                                               
9:32:21 AM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Hard replied  that DPS had manages the  VPSO program for                                                                    
40 years. He said that  the department was willing to engage                                                                    
in  more  flexible budget  management.  He  thought that  it                                                                    
would  be  advantageous for  DPS  to  better understand  the                                                                    
needs  of  specific  communities   to  build  more  flexible                                                                    
9:34:55 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Wilson queried the current rate for the grantees.                                                                       
9:35:11 AM                                                                                                                    
Mr.  Hard  replied  that  the  rates  were  established  and                                                                    
negotiated with the federal government.  He did not have the                                                                    
exact rates.                                                                                                                    
9:35:29 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator   Olson  interjected   that  DPS   was  online   for                                                                    
9:35:45 AM                                                                                                                    
KELLY HOWELL, LEGISLATIVE LIAISON,  SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE                                                                    
COMMISSIONER,  DEPARTMENT OF  PUBLIC SAFETY,  said that  the                                                                    
grantees had  rates negotiated  with the  federal government                                                                    
that ranged from low percentages to 40 percent.                                                                                 
9:37:01 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Wilson looked  at Section  6  and wondered  whether                                                                    
there  were  any  issues  with   VPSOs  meeting  the  hiring                                                                    
requirements set out in the bill.                                                                                               
9:37:35 AM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Hard replied that he did  not believe so. He stated that                                                                    
he had worked  to ensure that there would  not be unintended                                                                    
consequences. He said that VPSOs  under the previous stature                                                                    
had  a  requirement of  240  hours  of training,  which  was                                                                    
elevated  under the  bill. He  said that  the new  standards                                                                    
would  highlight  the  law   enforcement  component  of  the                                                                    
program, but the hope was  to not eliminate the allowance to                                                                    
hire under  the previous statute  at the lower  model, which                                                                    
was heavier on the public  safety component. He hoped that a                                                                    
suite of capabilities would be available to villages.                                                                           
9:39:43 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Stedman remarked  that there  had been  a struggle                                                                    
with  the VPSO  program  over  the years,  and  it had  been                                                                    
difficult  to get  the political  support to  strengthen the                                                                    
program. He noted that some  communities could not support a                                                                    
police department  but still  deserved basic  public safety.                                                                    
He shared  that some  of his  communities believed  that the                                                                    
communities should be  the grantee. He pointed  to Section 3                                                                    
and  expressed  concern  that organized  villages  might  be                                                                    
precluded from  applying. He  wondered why  the bill  was so                                                                    
restrictive  in  allowing  the communities  to  receive  and                                                                    
distribute  the grants.  He expressed  concern with  the pay                                                                    
scale  for VPSOs.  He relayed  the concerns  of constituents                                                                    
who lived in villages without any public safety presence.                                                                       
9:45:16 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Olson remarked  that the  intention of  the program                                                                    
was  to  provide continuity  with  a  cohesive program  with                                                                    
standards  and  support.  He   thought  that  a  centralized                                                                    
program that provided adequate oversight was necessary.                                                                         
9:47:57 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Stedman remarked  that the  size of  the community                                                                    
should be considered. He asserted  that communities could be                                                                    
small  and sophisticated.  He asked  about compensation  and                                                                    
whether the pay might be too  little. He that the bill could                                                                    
be  an  opportunity  to   provide  the  necessary  financial                                                                    
flexibility.   He   reiterated    his   concerns   on   VPSO                                                                    
9:50:15 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Olson deferred to the department.                                                                                       
Co-Chair  Bishop spoke  of  the financing.  He  asked for  a                                                                    
definition of "timely distribution" of a grant.                                                                                 
9:51:00 AM                                                                                                                    
Mr.  Hard replied  that  the  department's commissioner  was                                                                    
committed  to the  VPSO program.  He thought  that the  bill                                                                    
addressed  long existing  issues. He  thought that  too much                                                                    
time was being spent on the  position of VPSOs and felt that                                                                    
the  real question  was  being lost.  He  believed the  real                                                                    
issue was  wat type of  VPSO was needed for  each individual                                                                    
community and  how the department  could meet that  need. He                                                                    
hoped  that the  program  and statute  could  be changed  to                                                                    
reflect the current  needs of communities. He  felt that the                                                                    
department  had  done  poorly   in  its  management  of  the                                                                    
program. He said  one area of progress was  that salaries in                                                                    
the 90s were  starting at $35,000 annually  - currently they                                                                    
were $60,000 up  to $120,000 per year. He  said that efforts                                                                    
were being made towards hiring and retention.                                                                                   
9:55:08 AM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Hard  said that at  the peak  of the program  there were                                                                    
113 officers  - currently  there were  51. He  believed that                                                                    
there  was  room  for  growth   and  hoped  that  innovative                                                                    
marketing would  help. He spoke of  current applicants going                                                                    
through  the  vetting  process.   He  noted  that  work/life                                                                    
balance issues  often wore officers  out and forced  them to                                                                    
leave their positions.                                                                                                          
9:57:09 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Stedman wondered  about  communities  that had  no                                                                    
officers. He spoke  to the budget in FY 19  and the increase                                                                    
in funding  for the  program over the  years -  he expressed                                                                    
concern for the  allocation of those resources.  He hoped to                                                                    
work  with  the  bill  sponsor to  bring  in  VPSO  officers                                                                    
through City Hall. He stressed  the need for more protection                                                                    
for small communities.                                                                                                          
9:59:35 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Wielechowski cited  Page  11, line  21. He  thought                                                                    
that the language  could be interpreted in  several ways. He                                                                    
asked  whether there  were reasons  outside of  the language                                                                    
that could result in the revoking of a VPSO license.                                                                            
Mr. Hard related  that he did not know why  the language was                                                                    
in statute.  He said  that all  circumstance for  revoking a                                                                    
certificate could not be articulated in statute.                                                                                
Senator Wielechowski  thought that the language  in the bill                                                                    
could lead to litigation.                                                                                                       
10:01:38 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Hoffman  asked how communities went  about getting a                                                                    
VPSO and  whether there was  flexibility for  communities to                                                                    
subcontract  with corporations.  He  asked  how unserved  or                                                                    
underserved communities  went through  the process to  get a                                                                    
10:03:13 AM                                                                                                                   
Mr.  Hard described  the process  under current  statute. He                                                                    
thought that  the current process  was flawed. He  said that                                                                    
subcontracting   with  tribal   entities   had  never   been                                                                    
contemplated but could be beneficial.                                                                                           
10:05:18 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Hoffman spoke to the  legislature's role in crafting                                                                    
public  safety  policy. He  felt  that  the changes  to  the                                                                    
program   under   the   proposed   legislation   took   into                                                                    
consideration only certain public safety considerations.                                                                        
He asserted  that Alaska was diverse,  and conditions varied                                                                    
greatly  across  the state,  which  made  it important  that                                                                    
public safety policy be crafted  to serve the specific needs                                                                    
of the communities where it would be implemented.                                                                               
10:06:22 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Wilson wondered about program  funding over the past                                                                    
few years, including  lapsed funding. He was  unsure how the                                                                    
proposed  legislation  differed   from  current  statute  in                                                                    
ensuring unfiled positions were going to be filled.                                                                             
Mr. Hard explained  that there were 55  funded positions, 52                                                                    
VPSO  positions and  3 regional  coordinators. He  furthered                                                                    
that the governor's  budget would add 10  more positions. He                                                                    
spoke  of past  lapsed funding,  which  he felt  was due  to                                                                    
years when  there were more  employees lost than  gained. He                                                                    
said that  the issue,  with respect  to positions,  was that                                                                    
positions  could  be  filled  but  not  for  very  long.  He                                                                    
lamented that systemic issues  drove VPSOs from communities.                                                                    
He thought  that if  the statute could  be updated  to allow                                                                    
multiple officers  assigned to  a village  and for  VPSOs to                                                                    
move in a transient way to areas that needed support.                                                                           
10:10:01 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Stedman spoke of the  grant issue. He wondered what                                                                    
the  difference was  when dealing  with  VPSO grants  versus                                                                    
every other type of grant  acquired by local governments. He                                                                    
asserted that  mayors of  small towns were  just as  able to                                                                    
navigate the grant process as mayors of larger cities.                                                                          
10:12:16 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Olson remarked that there  was room for amending the                                                                    
bill and stated  that there would be  a committee substitute                                                                    
crafted   that  would   incorporate  suggestions   from  the                                                                    
committee and the department.                                                                                                   
10:13:03 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Wilson looked at page  14 and wondered whether there                                                                    
current VPSO would fall under the rules of the new statute.                                                                     
10:13:29 AM                                                                                                                   
Mr. Hard replied that current  VPSOs would not be subject to                                                                    
the training hour requirement written  into the new statute.                                                                    
He said that much of what  was in the bill had been imported                                                                    
form current regulation, with modest change.                                                                                    
10:14:20 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator  Wilson asked  whether any  currently employed  VPSO                                                                    
fell under the restrictions listed in Section 4.                                                                                
10:14:47 AM                                                                                                                   
Mr. Hard replied in the negative.                                                                                               
10:14:53 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair  Bishop  wondered whether  a  person  who had  used                                                                    
marijuana in the past would still be eligible to apply.                                                                         
10:15:44 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Olson  considered that everyone makes  mistakes when                                                                    
they are young.  He relayed that domestic  violence would be                                                                    
a  red flag  and that  the definition  of domestic  violence                                                                    
varied between the  city and rural areas.  He contended that                                                                    
the  bill had  been crafted  to reflect  the changing  times                                                                    
regarding marijuana.                                                                                                            
10:17:52 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Bishop opened invited and public testimony.                                                                            
[NOTE: The following testifiers  are to be considered PUBLIC                                                                    
10:18:34 AM                                                                                                                   
MICHAEL NEMETH, VPSO  PROGRAM COORDINATOR, ALEUTIAN PRIBILOF                                                                    
ISLAND ASSOCIATION, EAGLE  RIVER (via teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in  support   of  the  legislation.   He  remarked   on  the                                                                    
importance  of  the  partnership  between  VPSOs  and  State                                                                    
Tropers. He thought that statute  should evolve and believed                                                                    
that  the  proposed  bill   would  meaningfully  update  the                                                                    
statutes. He  spoke to communities  that did not  have VPSOs                                                                    
but wanted them. He said  that a diverse selection of voices                                                                    
existed   within  his   organization.   He   spoke  of   the                                                                    
difficulties   of  putting   a  VPSO   in  every   community                                                                    
regardless of  size. He spoke  to the indirect rate  for his                                                                    
organization,  which  was 22.2  percent.  He  said that  the                                                                    
rated were  based on administrative  costs for the  year and                                                                    
had  been confirmed  by a  third-party audit.  He said  that                                                                    
organizations that  managed the programs could  reach out to                                                                    
communities  that wanted  a VPSO.  He lamented  that funding                                                                    
was an issue.                                                                                                                   
10:24:25 AM                                                                                                                   
AMBER  VASKA,  TANANA  CHIEFS  CONFERENCE,  ALASKA  REGIONAL                                                                    
COALITION, FAIRBANKS (via  teleconference), spoke in support                                                                    
of the  bill. She said that  VPSO reform was of  the highest                                                                    
priority for  the coalition. She stressed  the importance of                                                                    
public  safety and  the  need for  improvement  in the  VPSO                                                                    
10:28:10 AM                                                                                                                   
RHONDA  PITKA,   CHIEF,  VILLAGE  OF  BEAVER,   BEAVER  (via                                                                    
teleconference),  testified  in  support of  the  bill.  She                                                                    
stressed  the need  for public  safety in  rural Alaska.  He                                                                    
felt that  the legislation had significant  support from all                                                                    
stakeholders  and was  important  for triggering  meaningful                                                                    
change  to  the VPSO  program  and  public safety  in  rural                                                                    
10:29:53 AM                                                                                                                   
JASON WILSON,  VPSO COORDINATOR,  TLINGIT AND  HAIDA CENTRAL                                                                    
COUNCIL,  spoke in  support of  the  legislation. He  echoed                                                                    
previous statements of support for  SB 81. He spoke to VPSOs                                                                    
and TPOs  (Tribal Police Officers) in  rural communities. He                                                                    
felt   that  the   bill  would   cement  a   strong  working                                                                    
relationship between the department and Tribal communities.                                                                     
10:32:42 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Bishop OPENED and CLOSED public testimony.                                                                             
10:33:22 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Bishop discussed the housekeeping.                                                                                     
SB  81  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
10:33:42 AM                                                                                                                   
The meeting was adjourned at 10:33 a.m.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Confirmations 2022 - Kevin Fimon Resume 2021 AMHTA_Redacted.pdf SFIN 2/28/2022 9:00:00 AM
CSSB 81 Version I Explanation of Changes 4.27.21.pdf SCRA 4/27/2021 3:30:00 PM
SFIN 2/28/2022 9:00:00 AM
SB 81
SB 81 Alaska Regional Coalition 2.23.2022.pdf SFIN 2/28/2022 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/21/2022 1:00:00 PM
SB 81
SB 81 Sponsor Statement 2.23.2022.pdf SFIN 2/28/2022 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/21/2022 1:00:00 PM
SB 81
SB 81 Sectional Version I 2.23.2022.pdf SFIN 2/28/2022 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/21/2022 1:00:00 PM
SB 81
SB 81 VPSO Working Group Report 9 Recommendations Supporting Document 2.23.2022.pdf SFIN 2/28/2022 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/21/2022 1:00:00 PM
SB 81